Mr.S has been our neighbor since 1993. Their son S was in his early teens when they shifted to our complex. My son and S played together. Their daughter might've been around 10 years then. So when I was told that S was seen meddling with my scooty I felt that I was justified in asking him not to do it since I was rather out of touch and was driving a two wheeler after a gap of 6 years and did not want any problem on my way to and from the college. I went to their flat and said this the same way I'd have told Rahul.
"Tell me who has been filling your ears" the boy bellowed. "I'll teach them a lesson. Come on tell me."
I was shocked not expecting such a reaction. I flatly refused to name anyone. It was the father who pitched in on behalf of his son.
"You cannot do this Mrs.R" he said. "People keep accusing my son of things he doesn't do. You will have to give us the person's name."
"That's fine" I said, "If he hadn't meddled with my scooty he only has to say so. There is no reason for me to disbelieve him."
"That doesn't end the matter" said the mother. "You came here only after hearing from someone that my son meddled with your scooty. You can't go away without giving us the name."
Their daughter also joined the group and the whole family took turns to scream at me and my husband came out to see what was happening. He was shocked to see me involved in a controversy. He hadn't expected it and he could not make head or tail of what was being said.
"Get back home immediately." he said.
Turning to Mr. S he said "I am sorry and apologize on behalf of my wife. Had she told me this earlier I would not have let her approach you with her complaint."
Turning to the son he said "I know that you would not have done anything of the sort. You're a good boy."
When my husband gets angry he can be mercilessly sarcastic and his message to the family was very clear.
"I was only trying to tell them........" I persisted.
"Never mind what you were trying to tell them. Try telling me when you get home. May be I'd understand. Come on let's go."
I went home and for the next half an hour the boy screamed as if he had gone berserk and his parents could not control him. Neighbors intervened and finally all was quiet. I thought that the matter was over.
Actually it wasn't over but I'd rather not go into it since that was not the purpose of this post. I keep wondering how far is a parent responsible for the way his ward turns out to be. If my children have grown up to be normal human beings am I allowed to take credit? Or am I just lucky? The question of 'Nature' versus 'Nurture' keeps coming to my mind and what role do these play in shaping a person's character? And what about the company one keeps.
I truly have nothing against the boy mentioned in this post but I tend to keep away from him. Am I wrong in doing so? As a neighbor it is easy for me to do so. His parents cannot do it. I cannot bring myself to reach out to him after the incident. The parents are a troubled lot and tho' more than 8 years have lapsed, the boy's behavior, that I had put down to teen trouble and adoloscent age, has not changed. Since most of the neighbors ignore him he tends to vent his frustration on his parents. Luckily his sister has turned out to be a responsible girl and has taken up a job.
Long back I read a book that left an impact in my mind. I'm afraid I don't remember the name of the book or its author. the story was about a doctor who was leading a normal life till her teenaged son gets upset with his girl friend and in a fit of uncontollable rage smashes her head leading to her death. The boys reaction is one of withdrawal from his family and friends, refusal to open up even to his mother who wants to arrange for counselling and his being sent to a correction home. It was a touching story, very well written and I found myself thinking that this could happen to anyone. His stubborn silence is traumatic to his mother who wants to tell him that she wanted to see him through this tragic event in his life, that her love for him had not diminished even a bit and that she still had faith that he would be a wonderful human being. Finally the story ends with the son acknowledging his mother's love and the readers feel relieved that there is hope for the boy. One just does not feel judgemental but rather feels sorry that such a thing should have ever happened in the boy's life.
Parents of teenaged children please don't let your love for your child make you turn a blind eye to their faults. I've known mothers encouraging their sons to gamble and look for short cuts to earn money. I've seen parents using their connections to see to it that their child tops his/her batch. They are in fact ruining the child's future for a moment's glory. Help them build a career but more importanly help them build their character - you owe it to them as well as society.